What You Need to Know About AEDs and CPR


Even though cardiopulmonary resuscitation is essential for saving cardiac arrest victims’ lives, the automated external defibrillator is also crucial for increasing the survival rate. These two techniques are usually performed simultaneously to provide the best possible results.

In this manner, you’ll significantly increase survival chances and prevent permanent brain damage or other impairments due to a cardiac arrest or non-regular heart rhythm.

There’s a strict procedure to be followed for emergencies where you should perform CPR and automated external defibrillation. There are also various heart conditions where these two life-saving techniques wouldn’t be of help.

Here, we’ll elaborate on the importance of AED and CPR, when and how to perform them, and where to get your CPR and AED certification.

CPR: The Fundamentals

CPR, also known as cardiopulmonary resuscitation, is a life-saving technique taught in almost all high schools, driving schools, and medical centers across the United States. According to AHA’s statistics, the CPR procedure can double or triple the survival chances of cardiac arrest victims.

That’s why government authorities and organizations, like the American Red Cross and the American Heart Association, urge citizens to learn this procedure and significantly increase cardiac arrest victims’ survival chances.

Following are some emergencies when you should perform a combination of 30 chest compressions and two artificial breaths after every cycle:

      • When the victim isn’t breathing;

      • When their heart stops beating;

      • When the patient suddenly collapses;

      • When the patient experiences severe breathing difficulties;

      • When the patient experiences irregular heart rhythm;

      • When the patient has suffered severe burns or electrocution and isn’t conscious;

      • Exposure to allergens;

      • Drug overdose, etc.


    Following are some emergencies when you should avoid performing the combination of 30 chest compressions and two breaths:

        • When the victim is displaying symptoms of a heart attack, not cardiac arrest

        • When the cardiac arrest victim is conscious and breathing;

        • When an AED is available and ready for use;

        • When the victim’s state is too fragile for CPR (elderly, terminally ill, bone fractures, etc.)

        • When the environment and the scene are unsafe (fires, chemicals, or electrical hazards);

        • When the emergency responders arrive, etc.

      Different Types of Resuscitation

      Heart conditions can affect different demographic groups and make them suffer severe impairments or even death. That’s why CPR procedures vary from one age group to another.

      For example, if you encounter a toddler or a child in cardiac arrest, you should immediately proceed to perform the infant & child CPR procedure. On the other hand, if you’re a bystander witnessing the heart failure of an adult, you should give the standard high-quality CPR procedure detailed in AHA’s annual CPR guidelines.

      Lastly, there’s hands-only CPR, which organizations like the American Heart Association and the American Red Cross often recommend to inexperienced bystanders. The hands-only CPR is more effective and less time-consuming, crucial for saving cardiac arrest victims’ lives.

      Both the American Red Cross and AHA insist that you first call emergency responders before administering the CPR or AED procedure. It’s of even greater significance to use an automated external defibrillator if you can find one nearby.

      AED: The Fundamentals

      Automated external defibrillation is the second most popular life-saving technique for cardiac arrest emergencies and arrhythmia. However, if you want to perform external defibrillation, you’ll have to use an AED – an electrical device that administers an electric shock if it recognizes a shockable rhythm.

      The purpose of automated external defibrillation is to restore the proper heart rhythm by stimulating the electrical impulses within the heart. The process is simple – the arrhythmia has disrupted the heartbeat, and the AED will depolarize the heart’s electrical system, controlled by the sinus node.

      The two most common emergencies that call for automated external defibrillation are ventricular fibrillation and ventricular tachycardia. Mind that once you turn on the AED device, it’ll automatically recognize these two arrhythmias and administer a shock.

      Following are some emergencies when you should perform automated external defibrillation:

          • When there’s an AED available, regardless if you’ve been trained in it;

          • When the person has suffered a cardiac arrest;

          • When the person is unconscious and not breathing properly;

          • When the person suffers ventricular fibrillation;

          • When the AED detects a shockable rhythm.


        Additionally, the following are the emergencies when you shouldn’t perform automated external defibrillation:

            • Potentially hazardous situations;

            • When the device hasn’t recognized the heartbeat as a shockable rhythm;

            • When the victim is conscious and breathing;

            • When first aid responders arrive;

            • When the person is lying on a watery and damp surface;

            • When the person has a hairy chest (make sure to shave the area first to ensure contact with the skin)

            • When the person is wearing a DNR bracelet;

            • When the person is wearing a pacemaker or a medication patch.

          What You Need to Know About AEDs and CPR: The Most Effective Combination!

          Even though you can administer the AED and CPR separately, they’re most effective when used together, as suggested by the American Red Cross and the American Heart Association. For example, both organizations will recommend that you start with the performance of automated external defibrillation before you proceed to give chest compressions and artificial oxygen.

          The studies suggest that you first administer an electric shock if the device recognizes the heartbeat as a shockable rhythm and then administer a three-minute CPR cycle. This way, you’ll significantly increase the survival chances of cardiac arrest or severe arrhythmias victims.

          However, multiple health organizations urge bystanders to call the emergency responders and initiate the CPR procedure if there’s no AED at hand. Combining these two life-saving techniques is one of the most essential aspects of what you need to know about AEDs and CPR.

          CPR and AEDs: Know-how and Certification

          As we’ve mentioned, more than 30 states across the USA are mandating CPR and AED training in public schools and workplaces. Each school or public workplace must annually conduct this training by employing professional CPR and AED instructors.

          These instructors usually acquire their certificates by participating in training courses certified by relevant organizations like the American Red Cross and the American Heart Association. That’s why both regional and federal authorities recognize the CPR and AED certificates issued by the AHA and the American Red Cross.

          Across the United States, you’ll find myriads of training centers that provide these licensed CPR and AED training courses. It gets even more interesting when you see an opportunity to participate in different certification courses depending on your job position and desired CPR and AED skills. On top of that, these organizations can also provide you with CPR and AED certification courses for whole organizations or businesses.

          Usually, these certification courses for whole teams or businesses are subject to various discounts and rates that’ll significantly reduce the overall cost of the certification course.

          It’s important to know that the AED and CPR certificates usually stay valid for two years. After this initial period, you’ll have to refresh your knowledge and re-certify yourself or your employees.

          Different Types of AED and CPR Certification Courses

          Various training centers provide different types of AED and CPR certification courses. The course type depends on the type of participants and the knowledge level. Following are some of the most frequent AED and CPR certification courses you can enroll in and get your certificate:

              • Fundamental First Aid CPR and AED courses

              • Pediatric CPR and AED Courses

              • Basic Life Support Courses (BLS)

              • Advanced Life Support Courses

              • CPR and AED for Healthcare Professionals, etc.

            Each course applies to different levels of knowledge and various workplaces. For example, the BLS course is specifically for training healthcare professionals like nurses, EMS professionals, and physicians, as well as emergency workers like firefighters.

            Final Words

            CPR and AED are the most popular and effective life-saving techniques in emergencies like sudden cardiac arrest or improper heart rhythm. You can combine them into a single procedure and save many lives as a bystander or a professional medical worker.
            However, you have to keep an eye on the different circumstances and when to avoid performing these two techniques. For this purpose, you can find numerous AHA and American Red Cross CPR and AED courses. Once you finish the course, you’ll be ready to administer CPR and an AED procedure the proper way.